Throughout its 115 year history, HEICO Group has consistently shown its commitment to innovation – both in the products it supplies and the unique production processes and tooling it uses. A prime example was the recent introduction of a complete customised packaging solution – from product infeed to palletising – supplied by Weighpack.
At the end of 2016 HEICO was ready for the next step in its development and looked at how it could move forward expanding its packaging capabilities. It is a specialist field focusing on efficiency and accuracy, which is why HEICO contacted Weighpack and invited the company to work on a solution for the complete packaging process.
Weighpack developed a tailor-made packaging line, not a stand-alone system, that perfectly fitted in-line with HEICO’s requirements. However, it is also a system that meets the requirements and wishes with regards to flexibility and can grow with the company.
One integrated system
Weighpack has a unique specialty – processing products with a small volume and a heavy weight. These types of products require completely different solutions and systems. The Weighpack strength is that it can keep the entire process in one hand, from the initial advice up to and including service and maintenance. All components in the packaging line of Weighpack have been optimised and integrated. This means that all partial solutions ‘communicate’ with each other and the peripheral equipment. This has many advantages for a trouble-free operation and efficient maintenance. At Weighpack customers can find know-how in the field of machine engineering, mechatronics and control technology – both PLC and PC. It resulted in a system that was built up and tested at Weighpack’s plant in The Hague, the Netherlands. The packaging line was then dismantled, packed, transported and built-up again at the HEICO production location in Ense, Germany, in the first quarter of 2018.
The latest technology
Weighpack’s credo is ‘thinking ahead’. The company likes to be at the forefront in technology, continuously seeking new technologies and materials to optimise the process. In addition, Weighpack works closely together with specialised partners (for components) and organisations (for research). Because of this Weighpack could deliver the latest packaging line for the fully automatic packing of cold forming parts. The packaging line packs the HEICO products in returnable plastic KLT boxes, bags or American folding cases.
The configuration starts at the infeed of the products were a Lift&Tip unit with 1,000kg capacity empties internal bins in the main storage hopper. Before introducing the product bin in the Lift&Tip unit, the operator makes a scan of the product barcode to initiate the central control PC, which will recognise the introduction of a new or running batch order and all other relevant information like product type, packing type, quantity per pack, VDA label information and pallet stacking. From the Lift&Tip unit the products are stored in a 1,200kg capacity vibratory hopper. Through a special vibratory pre-weigh tray, the products are streamed to feed the 14 head combination weigher, which can generate a product flow up to 120kg per minute. The product portions, created by the multi-head combination weigher, are transported by choice to the box or the bag filling position.
Depending on the desired type of packing, the system activates the automatic case erector to supply American cases or the automatic de-stacker for plastic boxes in case of KLT packing.
Before introducing the KLT or boxes into the system, the empty boxes are checked by a Vision Camera System to check the condition and labeling position of the KLT returnable. The vision system will recognise contamination from alien parts, contamination from water or oil, deformation or damage, as well as correct position of the label slot. In case the KLT box faces the wrong labeling position, the boxes will automatically be turned 180 degrees to face the correct labeling position again. If requested by the end user an anti-corrosion paper sheet dispenser can be activated to apply an anti-corrosion paper sheet at the bottom of the empty KLT box and apply another one on the top of the filled KLT boxes.
The integrated horizontal bag maker is especially designed for the packing of low volume, high weight products. Its main advantage is the very low filling height, which avoids a long product fall and limits the building height of the entire packaging line. The products can be wrapped in standard polyethylene foil or using VCI (corrosion inhibiter foil) before being packed in KLTs or boxes.
A bag-in-box filling position is foreseen to pack the products in bags first and subsequently place them in the KLT boxes or the American cases (for oversea packing).
After the filling, the boxes pass by a check weigh station to check the correct filling; boxes out of tolerance are rejected onto a roller conveyor. In the next section of the line, the KLT boxes are automatically covered by a closing lid to avoid any product mix or contamination during the transport to the end customer. If packed in American cases, the automatic tape closer is activated to fold and tape the boxes from the top.
The sealed and closed KLT or boxes are now ready for a VDA/Odette/AIAG label – by two print and apply systems. The print information has automatically been generated from a .csv file received from the HEICO ERP system after scanning the barcode of the product.
The KLT’s are tagged by an automatic labelling system that uses an endless roll of paper to print, cut and place the label cards in the desired KLT label slot. The American cases are tagged by an automatic labelling system that uses self-adhesive labels to print and apply the label on one side of the box.
The new developed palletiser is especially designed to handle KLT boxes and low volume high weight boxes. The new design ensures the stable and reliable stacking and nesting of the plastic boxes used in the automotive industry. The capacity is up to 18 heavy weight boxes per minute with five different box sizes and four different pallet sizes.
To enable the run of small batches, the line is equipped with a central control unit with overall management system and interaction with customers’ ERP system. This system enables the automatic take over of ERP based information to be loaded in the machine parameters by the use of CSV/XML export and import files. The import files will set receipt parameters such as – article number, batch number, packing type, number of packs to produce, pallet type, number of boxes on the pallet, all relevant label information, etc.
Will joined Fastener + Fixing Magazine in 2007 and over the last 12 years has experienced every facet of the fastener sector - interviewing key figures within the industry and visiting leading companies and exhibitions around the globe.
Will manages the content strategy across all platforms and is the guardian for the high editorial standards that the Magazine is renowned.